Adventure Mendota is a new company that recently kicked off its first season of fun just outside Abingdon in southwest Virginia. And just days before receiving visitors for their first float trips, the owners welcomed River into their lives.
“We were ready for this dog and he was ready for us,” said Adventure Mendota co-owner Eva Beaule. “We lost our first Golden in February, 2013 at the age of 14, our second Golden in March of 2014 at the age of 15, and we lost our beloved Luckie, who had the good sense to show up at our house as a pup, earlier this year. It has been desperately lonely but we wanted to wait until a special dog needed us.”
Then along came River.
“A friend contacted us about a dog found wandering in an area neighborhood,” said Eva. “Someone put it on Craig’s List trying to locate an owner. The dog had apparently been dumped off and was slightly injured and nobody was coming forward.”
The dog reminded Eva and her husband Mike of their sweet dog Luckie. Mike immediately hitched a ride with a friend (he couldn’t drive because of a pulled hamstring) and went to pick up the dog.
The name River was a no-brainer for Eva and Mike, who live on the North Fork of the Holston River.
Best guess is that River is a mix of German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd and Golden Retriever.
“That’s what the girls with the Knoxville Area Golden Retriever Rescue think after studying his picture,” said Eva, who’s in talks with the group about rescuing a little sister for River.
In the meantime, she’s just grateful to have a new kayak buddy.
River has jumped right in to his new lifestyle!
“Our River is the best!” said Eva. “He’s a natural water lover – he loves to lie down and take a little sip. He then swims around watching me with a ‘look at me’ look and then, once he’s completely refreshed, he takes off like a bandit. River is going to need a little “schooling” in the coming months! He’s certainly aptly named because he loves the North Fork.”
Let me tell you more about River’s new splashing grounds – the North Fork and Adventure Mendota.
This is a no-go zone for cell phones. And that’s really the point when you head out on one of their relaxing trips with family or friends.
“Get off the grid and into the water!” laughed Eva.
You can get off the grid in a kayak or a tube. It’s a Class I river so no experience needed.
The journey for kayakers is about 5 miles and takes you through some small rapids. It’s super scenic. You’ll also pass under two swinging bridges and a trestle. Eva says it takes 2 to 3 hours depending on how leisurely you travel. The tubing trips lasts an hour (ish).
This is a dream come true for Eva and Mike who talked to me about what led them to open Adventure Mendota.
“We’ve always wanted to have a small business together so that was present in the thought process, but it was a walk across my front lawn with Michael where he commented, ‘There sure are a lot of kayaks on the river!’” said Eva. “That comment, combined with the desire to see Mendota build a sustainable economy of small, family-owned businesses, was the foundation for Adventure Mendota.”
That walk across the yard was on a Sunday in September of 2014. By the end of the month, Eva and Mike had set up the LLC.
“We loved the idea so why ponder it?”
But building a small business still takes a village.
“We are self-funding, so while there was no outside financing, we had to be very careful with every dollar,” said Eva. “We utilized all the resources available to us. We relied heavily on the Virginia Highlands Small Business Incubator and the Washington County, Virginia Business Challenge to keep us grounded and on pace. They became our posse!”
Next year Eva and Mike hope to expand routes and perhaps combine workshops, like photography for example, with the outdoor experience.
And down the road, they’re seeing an even bigger picture.
“We’d like to include some type of hiking or biking activity since Clinch Mountain and the Mendota Fire Tower watch over our valley,” said Eva. “It would be a challenging bike trail up that mountain, but I think there are people who might accept that challenge! We are still hopeful that the Bristol to Mendota rail bed will someday be a hiking and biking trail. We are optimistic!”
Eva and Mike are truly passionate about their business and the area.
“I tell my friends that I’m the daughter of Clinch Mountain and the North Fork of the Holston is my sister,” said Eva. “I want others to see them in the manner I see them — precious resources.”
And now there’s a precious mascot to help promote all that Adventure Mendota has to offer.
“We look forward to featuring River in brochures and allowing his input in all public relations,” said Eva. “He also is a reminder that there are wonderful animals out there who need help.”
As for River, he truly hit the jackpot the day Mike picked him up.
“We love him,” said Eva. “He still suffers some abandonment issues and he’s afraid of brooms and sticks, but otherwise, he is becoming a well-adjusted big boy who is not only allowed on the bed but encouraged!”
And it doesn’t even matter that he snores.
“He was meant to be our dog,” said Eva.
(The Adventure Mendota season began on May 2nd and will wrap up in October.)